1. Ventricular trabeculae from rat heart were chemically skinned with Triton X-100, which disrupts all cellular membranes including the sarcoplasmic reticulum. In the effective absence of Ca2+ (10(-9) M), trabeculae developed a maintained rigor contracture when ATP was withdrawn from the bathing solution. 2. The final level of tension obtained following withdrawal of ATP was dependent upon the pH of the bathing solution during development of rigor. Rigor tension at pH 5.5 was 10.1 +/- 0.9% (n = 8, mean +/- S.E.M.) of that at pH 7.0. Bathing the preparation in alkaline solution increased rigor force. At pH 8.0, rigor force increased to 218 +/- 6.7% (n = 4) of control responses developed at pH 7.0. The rate of development of rigor tension increased as the pH of the bathing solution was increased. Once established, rigor tension was unaffected by subsequent changes in pH. These effects of pH were fully reversible within the range 5.5-8.0. 3. The final level of rigor tension was slightly reduced when inorganic phosphate (P(i)) was included in the bathing solution prior to withdrawal of ATP. P(i) concentrations of 10, 20 and 30 mM reduced rigor tension to 87 +/- 2, 83 +/- 3 and 82 +/- 4% respectively. There was no significant effect of P(i) on the rate of development of rigor. The effect of P(i) at pH 6.0 was not significantly different from that observed at the control pH of 7.0. 4. These results suggest that the fall of intracellular pH and, to a lesser extent, the rise in [P(i)] that occurs during ischaemia will partially inhibit the development of a rigor contracture.